I Love Paris Every Moment…
“I have looked forward to studying abroad in Paris since I first started to learn French in middle school,” says Sara Mitra Afzal ’09 (journalism). “As my first French teacher described the art museums and historical sites, I became intrigued with the culture. I’ve continued to study the language, even though I knew the only way for me to truly improve my speaking is to be around native French speakers. Studying at the Université de Paris Diderot is giving me this opportunity.”
Afzal, who aspires to be a foreign correspondent and is fluent in Farsi, is there now, thanks in part to an SBS Study Abroad Scholarship, one of four awarded for the first time. (Ansin Study Abroad Fellowships have been awarded for many years now, but because of timing issues, they only went to students studying abroad in the summer or fall.). She is savoring every moment. Take a look at the first entry from her blog, below.
If I were a native French person, my name would be Suzette because not only do I love the name, but I live in a studette, or small apartment, and Suzette’s Studette rhymes too wonderfully. I am officially in my apartment in the premier arrondissement, meaning I am in the middle of Paris. Ma chambre est très petite. There is a twin-sized bed that pulls out from the wall, a kitchenette (whose sink is used for both cooking and brushing my teeth), a shower in the corner of the room, a small table used as my kitchen table and desk, and the bathroom is in the hallway. Adapting to my apartment has come pretty smoothly. I look at having everything together as a convenience instead of living in small quarters. This is exactly where I want to be, and I have my own apartment in the middle of a very metropolitan area with restaurants, cafés, and boutiques.
I’m a 15-minute walk from la Louvre and a 20-minute walk from the Musée d’Orsay, which we visited today. C’est très magnifique. I saw many masterpieces including Van Gogh’s most famous self-portrait, many of Monet’s famous water lilies, and Renoir’s wonderful painting of a crowd dancing at the Bal du Moulin de la Galette. It was so surreal seeing these works in detail.
My awe of la Tour Eiffel has not stopped after being here almost a week. It is just so epic. Every night at 8 p.m. the tower lights up and sparkles. The light show was initially just for New Year’s Eve, but Parisians requested to make it a permanent staple of the city in 2000, and why not?
My language barrier makes me feel naïve about this culture and I am so curious. Every time I speak to a French person I learn something. When I was in the McDonald’s (the only place close to my apartment with free wireless), two high school students were nice enough to talk to me. I got to practice my French on them and they got to practice their English on me. Unfortunately, the outlet or une prise electrique ne marche pas, but at least I learned what the word for plug is in French, une prise….
As I travel the metro, walk past chic cafés, smell cigarette smoke, hear very fast French, and see the generally stylish Parisians it hits me–I’m here. I have so much yet to discover and learn about Paris.
For Sara Afzal, her dream of studying abroad has come true, in part because of the support SBS has been able to provide her, thanks to the generous gift from Chris McCabe ’81 (political science). McCabe, now a managing director in the technology unit of the international middle market investment firm, Piper Jaffray, provided the funds for the spring awards. He says that his own undergraduate study abroad experience in France was “life changing.” Until he took advantage of this opportunity, he was unclear about the direction his life would take. “Being in France,” he says, “gave me new perspectives, new attitudes, and an understanding of the world beyond anything I had ever imagined. It’s important to make these experiences available to as many students as possible.” If you’d like to help make dreams come true for more students, please consider making a gift to SBS now.
January 26, 2009